welcome to newsday. i'm kasia madera in london. the headlines: one of the world's architectural wonders, notre dame cathedral in paris, has been left in ruins by a devastating fire. these are the live pictures from the french capital where it's been burning for nearly five hours. the blaze has destroyed much of the cathedral‘s roof. this is the moment the main spire of the 850—year—old building collapsed. these are the first pick is of the devastation inside the cathedral where investigators are trying to ascertain the severity of the damage. i'm rico hizon in singapore. also in the programme: president macron has been to the scene. he promised the catherdral
will be rebuilt. —— he promised the cathedral will be rebuilt. translation: the worst has been avoided, even if the battle isn't won yet. thousands have been watching in tears and dismay as this symbol of paris goes up in flames. live from our studios in singapore and london, this is bbc world news. it's newsday. it's 1am here in london, 8am in singapore and two o'clock in the morning in paris, where a majorfire has engulfed one of france's most famous landmarks, the medieval cathedral of notre dame. notre dame has stood on the banks of the river seine for 850 years. and tonight, the fire continues to burn, though officials say
the main structure has been saved. these are the live shots now where water continues to pour in to bring the heat under control. but the devastation is immense. one firefighter has been seriously injured. huge crowds gathered in the streets around it, many were in tears. president macron has promised it would be rebuilt. our paris correspondent lucy williamson starts our coverage of the destruction of notre dame. it was, said the president, a part of france that burned today, a part that stood here for 800 years, through war, revolution and religious unrest. engulfed within an hour by flames. its ancient towers, beacons for both residents and tourists, crumbling into the blaze. as its current guardian watched through tears.
translation: this is a national disaster, i'm very upset. this cathedral is 850 years old and to see the building fall to pieces, the spire to fall down just as we were renovating it, all i can do is pray. firefighters circled the cathedral to tackle the blaze. their cranes stretching to reach its soaring roof, a complicated and fragile operation, simply dousing the medieval structure with water was not an option, rescue experts said, because the building could collapse. to tackle the flames inside the building, firefighters had to climb up the towers. nothing else could reach. president macron arriving at the cathedral with france's prime minister his face upturned in disbelief.
what has happened tonight in paris in notre dame is a terrible event. i wa nt to in notre dame is a terrible event. i want to first think the firefighters, 500 of whom have battled the flames for several hours and will keep doing so for several more and maybe for several days. the fla mes more and maybe for several days. the flames are slowly beginning to subside now but the damage is just beginning to reveal itself. the destruction of this mediaeval symbol of paris is left the city under a pall of shock and smoke. people packed into the streets around barely spoke, just watched. those who found the words for their impressions, one after the other, all said the same. translation: this is awful, it's terribly sad. it is terrifying. the fire is uncontrollable. i've been here for one hour and there is nothing we can do. the deputy mayor of paris confirmed the fire started on the roof and quickly spread. the cause isn't clear. police have begun an investigation but some have questioned whether extensive renovation work currently under way here might have
sparked this massive blaze. the task now is to assess the destruction inside the building. its woodwork dating from the 13th century, its statues destroyed once before by revolutionaries two centuries ago. many things are said to be irreplaceable. great art, cultural heritage, symbols of protection and hope. what words should we use when it is all of these? lucy williamson, bbc news, paris. as paris comes to terms with what has happened to notre dame, let's look at some of the first images coming in from inside this 850—year—old interior cathedral. these are the first images that we have received here at the bbc newsroom and we can see that the devastation, the fire that was raging in the roof of this particular part of the cathedral,
although it looks absolutely dramatic we saw the flames coming up on the outside, the devastation within the insiders at fully looking not as bad as initially had been feared. the firefighters were able to keep the walls wet and so the fire did not spread as much as it had initially been feared. the investigation teams will come in in the morning to assess the situation and water is still continually being doused but you can see the devastation right now is... it does not look too dreadful. of course it isa not look too dreadful. of course it is a terrible situation but it is salvageable and the stone is secure, we are being told. many of the relic, the absolutely priceless in terms of meaning for the religion, those relics have been taken out
including the crown of thorns and a piece of the true cross, some of the most revered relics that had been housed within the cathedral. many artworks have been removed as well but these are some of the images we are seeing from the inside, showing the devastation and we can see the stone structure at least is secure and hopefully some is kind of salvage operation will be able to start. these are the images from inside. let's look outside because asi inside. let's look outside because as i say, one of the concerns that my colleague was mentioning earlier is that the heat that had been created by the fire itself, that needs to be brought down. the stone is hot and firefighters will continue to pour water into the building to bring the heat down in order to stop any possible fire re—establishing itself. this is
absolutely crucial and as you can see it is now two in the morning local time and firefighters are working through the night. sadly, one firefighter has been injured but unbelievably nobody else hurt in what has been a devastating day for paris and for france. we believe that the cathedral was closed earlier than normal today so the cathedral was closed a little earlier and tourists, thousands of tourists who come to see this iconic building every single day were being ushered out to leave and then the fire took hold in the flames that we saw on the spire which fell inside the building itself. as i say, kevin connko the building itself. as i say, kevin connolly has been on—site and has been talking to me. he described the events a short time ago. you can probably see behind me that notre dame cathedral,
that miracle of mediaeval architecture and engineering, the basic structure, the shape of it as we recognise it is still visible against the dark skyline here. you may be able to make out that water is still being poured in. the job of the firefighters now is to make sure that the fire cannot re—establish itself somewhere in the depths of the building and to bring down the very high temperature of the stone and the woodwork inside. tomorrow comes the work of establishing what caused the fire and the first assessment of how long it will take to repair the damage and how much it will cost. it is worth bearing in mind the nature of these buildings. notre dame took nearly 200 years to build. as i say it was a miracle of the mediaeval era. it would not take that long to repair but it is a remarkable moment in the life of a building that tells the story of france.
this is the building where napoleon was consecrated as emperor and at that point in the 19th century, notre dame was nearly 500 years old already. it is the antiquity of the building, the extent to which it is woven into the heart and story of france. the scale of the emotional impact that lucy describes in her report. it's why there are still crowds around me, even though it is iam here in paris. people are looking to see what happened to the building and what tomorrow will bring. it is an enormous moment in french history. president macron was due to make a speech tonight about politics, a response to the yellow vest protest we have seen in france recently. he cancelled that speech, came here instead, to speak about this cathedral and what it means to the french people and what will need to be done now that it has been so badly damaged. the morning will bring
new investigations as to what happened but there was a lot of concern that there were not more firefighters there early on. i think you will always get criticism of these kind of operations at these moments. no—one will ever feel that enough has been done. to some extent i think that tells you how strongly attached the french are to this building. how strongly they feel that everything should have been done to save it. actual assessment of the quality of the security operations, firefighting operations, that will take some time. the immediate task here is some kind of assessment of the damage, some kind of assessment of what you do in the short term to shore up the structure and in the longer term to repair it, to bring it back to viability, to have it again as a central place in catholic worship. it was recognised all around the world, and what it would take to restore it to its centrality
at the heart of paris and in the life of france. that is a huge historical undertaking. we think an appeal will be launched tomorrow, a kind of public subscription so the french, i think, will be able to feel and france will be able to feel that the work of reconstruction, in principle, against tomorrow even though an enormous task clearly lies ahead as you can see when you can look at that building in the dark behind me. there had been appeals for money to assist with the restoration so i guess those appeals will be strengthened? this will be an enormous and international effort. it is important for both the french and catholics around the world. when you think about its centrality in the heart of french life i am told that every distance marker in france that tells you how far to paris
is measured from notre dame cathedral. that is point zero of france. the marker against which everything else is calibrated. i imagine that appeal will be an easy one to launch. and have every prospect of success. the scale of the task should not be underestimated. the fabric of notre dame, like the fabric of many mediaeval cathedrals, has been deteriorating over a very, very long time. presumably it will be found to be one of the reasons why the building itself caught fire and has been so badly damaged. the potential for disaster has always been there in the steady deterioration over time. so an immense task lies ahead of france to restore this building because, of course, a proper restoration will need to restore the character of notre dame as it always
has been and in the modern world, you know, finding people with the necessary skills in stone and woodwork to reproduce the glories of mediaeval europe will not be easy. it is an absolutely staggering scene behind you, the devastation. of course, you touched upon the yellow vest protest. they were due to regroup this weekend following on from what emmanuel macron would have said tonight. he did not speak. do you know if those protest will now, out of respect, not go ahead? i think it is far too early to think about that. i don't even think the people involved would have begun to think about that or how this connects into their protest or how it connects into the life of france. this is standing alone is a moment of national disaster. a cold moment at the heart of france that will give the french the challenge of the huge task of recovery. it is something that almost stands
apart from the world of day—to—day politics, however intense that has been. and emmanuel macron was due to make political speech tonight on national television. he came down here to speak to the nation instead. and i think many french people will think he captured very well the role that this building has always played in the heart of france. how important it was to save it, to avoid the worst of the damage and how important it will be in the future to rebuild it. he addressed himself to those central themes in his speech and then the political themes that french people will be picking up tomorrow. that was kevin speaking to me before we receive the most recent pictures from inside the cathedral.
absolute shock, disbelief at what people are looking it. the two towers standing and the facades, just enormous damage that we are likely to only really understand tomorrow what kind of damage, totally gutted, for example. we saw small puffs of smoke rising from the top and spoke to one family who was just inside the cathedral, who are therefore the closing time and today, the cathedral closed 616 and we understand the blaze broke out shortly after that and i looked and saw the photographs taken by that family from the us and they had a whole series of photographs and we
saw that there was just the splendour of the cathedral, the normal tourist photographs and about five or six photographs later, you consider small puffs of smoke rising. the smoke was very close to the scaffolding, the part of the roof where the construction work was taking place and it was amazing. we started to move towards the cathedral. and i can tell you, there we re cathedral. and i can tell you, there were just as many people rushing away from the cathedral. many people concerned this may have been some kind of attack. paris is still on a high level of security alert but people moved towards the cathedral and those flames took off quickly. even an hour after the blaze began, there was just no sign of firefighter hoses, it just there was just no sign of firefighter hoses, itjust seemed like the fire was totally out of control and it moved so quickly and
it sped up that spire so fast, there was a real concern it was going to fall on to some of the historic nearby buildings. about 20 minutes after the fire first took hold, the spire fell right into the middle of the cathedral and that's why the damage inside is going to be quite significant. when we look at the images, the intensity of the fire is staggering. just a brief our viewers, we believe there is a small fire in the building that most of it has been contained and from our understanding, the worst has been avoided so the struckjob the building is, in theory, ok but when we look at what happened earlier today, the intensity of the fire is really, really worrying. that's right, and the flames were shooting up right, and the flames were shooting up so high. people are just staggered to see those. you are
right. i'm standing right in front of the cathedral in front of the river seine and there are flickers of flame from within. firefighters with mechanical ladders. it was really at its height. people were screaming out. this is an hour, some people trying to say it will be impossible. the very small streets. firefighters tonight have been saying it was very difficult, there we re saying it was very difficult, there were a lot of dangers. people screaming out, where other helicopters. was absolutely astonishing. we do here tonight, the
two towers there standing. the stone facades. it's only going to be in the next week or two when tests are carried out to see whether or not that historic facade, whether stonework has been damaged, whether or not it's going to be too fragile to even think about rebuilding. total catastrophe has been avoided. just looking at all of these people around here, it's after midnight, tens of thousands still gathered here. just looking at this empty skyline. seamus, let's take advantage of the fact that you were there from the very beginning. we believe the works of art, the religious icons, countless artefacts that are within the cathedral. did
you see any of that? interviewed by television station. some artefacts have been taken out. or by people who worked in the cathedral. have been taken out. or by people who worked in the cathedralm have been taken out. or by people who worked in the cathedral. it was closing early tonight. that may have been very, very lucky indeed. the tourists were on their way out. i know there was an official i heard talking in french, he was talking about a crown that had been saved. i'm not sure which crown he was referring to but we know that a lot of these very precious artworks, it's absolutely massive, huge paintings. it's impossible to imagine that all of the artefacts and all of the treasures will have been saved. people are talking about
hitting the needle to look at a lot of the artwork stop and really this anxiety to know what is going to be, what are we going to find tomorrow. once the firefighters have managed to totally put out the flames, going inside, we understand that the roof collapse, the spire fell right inside the cathedral but does that mean that the actual stone ceiling inside the cathedral, has that collapsed as well? that is a question at the moment, experts will go in either later tonight or tomorrow morning and we should hear more about that. that was seamus kearney, a freelance journalist. more about that. that was seamus kearney, a freelancejournalist. we have developments since then. but the true crown he was talking about, the true crown he was talking about, the crown of thorns, believed to have been warned by christ at his crucifixion because this is holy
week right now. other important relics that have been saved other true crown as well, parts of the cross, the true cross, parts of the cross, the true cross, parts of the cross that christ was crucified on, relics that have been taken out. they have been saved. also, seamus talking about the possibility of experts going into the cathedral later on tonight. they are indeed already inside. water still being doused to bring the temperatures down, that stonework, still incredibly hot and concerns to stop, prevent incredibly hot and concerns to stop, p reve nt a ny incredibly hot and concerns to stop, prevent a ny fla mes incredibly hot and concerns to stop, prevent any flames from blazing up again, igniting again, so water still being doused across but what we are looking at there are some of the experts, some of the firefighters on the top, on the rooftops and they are doing initial investigations to see the extent of the damage. the extent of the damage
is bad, the roof has collapsed. we saw the spire collapsing in but i can bring you some of the first images from inside and of course, you considerflames images from inside and of course, you consider flames at the top there but the stonework, the stonework is intact and some of the intricate carvings into the stone does seem to be still in place. so yes, this is going to take, 200 years to build notre dame, it will take a long time to get it back to its former glory but there is hope they are. you can see there is hope amid criticism that there were no helicopters offline water something that donald trump had tweeted, the french interior ministry. really quick to get in there and tweed in english, not in french, that all means are
being used to bring the fire under control but they stress, water bombing aircraft, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral. the decision—making process was there and as we can see, the stonework is still intact. let's talk to somebody knows more about this. craig bennett is director of bennett preservation engineering. he's in charleston, south carolina. he has worked on preserving many major american historical structures. where do we even begin with something that is 850 years old, something that is 850 years old, something as iconic and is loved as notre dame. the first thing, you do no harm. the french engineers and their wonderful engineers in france, these engineers will stabilise the structure if it is likely to be
unstable. that's the very first step. after that, there will be an immense amount of valuation and investigation to determine what's been, how badly damaged is this stone, how badly damaged is the motor and that will vary all of the building? can i ask you, because donald trump was even asking, a lot of criticism, a lot of people concerned there were no helicopters flying over, dropping water, flowing water tankers suggested by the american president. would that have been a bad idea? i suspect so. you know that it's got some force to it if you've been hit by a water balloon. anything that would drop a massive amount of water in any one time. craig, when we were watching initially, the flames were shooting
up. it almost feels —— felt as if this was an un— salvageable situation. from the pictures inside, it seems there is a lot of hope. situation. from the pictures inside, it seems there is a lot of hopelj ee, it seems there is a lot of hopelj agree, i really do. ithink it seems there is a lot of hopelj agree, i really do. i think there is immense hope here the structures we re very immense hope here the structures were very close to collapse. they have been saved. there are occasionally structures that can't be. most of them look worse than this. have you ever worked on such an old building? nothing of this age. i've worked on some artefacts that were from the second century but most of the structures on which i've worked which were built on around 1690. this is really quite an
old one. it certainly is. when you look at starting, trying to rebuild something like this, when it comes to stonework, there was a lot of concern that notre dame, the pillars have been eroded down by acid rain. how do you start rebuilding mount? where'd you get the craftsmanship was to mark there are craftsmen, really all over the world, who are able to do beautiful stonework. not that many of them. as a matter of fa ct, that many of them. as a matter of fact, we have an american college of building arts here in charleston and yes, a fellow who teaches stone masonry came from the uk but there are awfully good stonemasons all around the world. they are a little
ha rd to around the world. they are a little hard to find. there are good stonemasons. craig bennett, director of bennett preservation engineering, thank you for your expertise. there are already experts, firefighters and no doubt people there, we look at flashlights earlier. the state of the destruction but the most important thing is, the stonework is sound so there is a possibility and no doubt the beginnings of, the chance to rebuild this building. it's a deeply religious building.
it's a deeply religious building. it's a deeply religious building. it's a historical building. it's seen so much through france's very turbulent history and it's a cultural building. this means so much to so many different people across paris and france, thousands of tourists that come and have their pictures taken outside, the live shots that we are seeing now of specialists with the flashlights and torches, making their first initial investigation. we'll have more from paris in a moment, but let's take a look at some of the day's other news. the international committee of the red cross says it still hopes for the release of three staff members abducted in syria in 2013. a nurse from new zealand and two syrian drivers were taken, probably by islamic state militants, as they tried to deliver medical supplies to idlib. the icrc says it knows that the nurse was seen alive late